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Hurricanes are among the most destructive of natural catastrophes and can cause billions of dollars in damages. But weather forecasting systems and technology often provide enough lead-time to minimize damages when a storm strikes — if you plan ahead.

This year, there are some previously unheard-of variables to consider when making your hurricane plans. Rising sea levels, warming oceans and the presence of La Nina increase the risk.

By preparing in advance, builders and contractors can be ready to take action when a storm is coming. For complete details, read our Hurricane preparedness guide for construction projects that includes our team’s recommended steps to follow to help you prepare, respond and recover should a hurricane threaten the safety of your projects and people.

The 411 on hurricane season

In the US, hurricane season typically spans from June 1 to November 30. September tends to be the most common month for hurricanes making landfall, followed by August and October.

According to the National Weather Service, six hurricanes form in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico during an average hurricane season. Over a typical two-year period, the U.S. coastline is struck by three hurricanes. The 2020 hurricane season is expected to have above-average activity. Early forecasts estimate some 16 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes for the year. There is an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean. (Visit the Insurance Information Institute for more facts on hurricanes.)

Hurricanes can make landfall in any of the Gulf or East Coast states, particularly (in order of likelihood):

  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Louisiana
  • North Carolina

 

Damages from hurricanes are largely caused by water and wind. Hurricanes can bring tornadoes, high winds, and flooding from storm surge and/or heavy rainfall.

Construction sites are particularly vulnerable during hurricanes. Materials and debris can become projectiles in high winds, water can flood unfinished structures, and equipment can be lost or damaged. In addition to water and wind, fire losses are also possible, as well as damage from theft or vandalism after the storm is over.

Construction sites are particularly vulnerable during hurricanes. Materials and debris can become projectiles in high winds, water can flood unfinished structures, and equipment can be lost or damaged.

Before a storm hits
The more your team prepares before a storm hits, the better it will be able to respond if your site is in the path of an approaching hurricane. Here’s a look at what you can do ahead of time:

  • Assemble your hurricane response team
  • Review project schedule for hurricane season
  • Develop timeline plans
  • Assemble protection materials
  • Create communications plan
  • Prepare your people
  • Develop post-storm plans

AXA XL’s Hurricane preparedness guide for construction projects provides greater details on recommended steps to follow to help you prepare, respond and recover should a hurricane threaten the safety of your projects and people. 

Timeline Overview

Tropical storm phase. 
Hurricanes start as tropical storms. For the duration of hurricane season, the person in charge of monitoring weather should be checking frequently on the progress of any tropical storms identified by the National Weather Service. 

72-48 hours before storm’s projected landfall. 
At this point, it is hard to tell if the hurricane will affect your site location. However, you can begin to take precautions that are not overly disruptive in case the hurricane changes course. 

Hurricane Watch: 48-36 hours before projected landfall.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues a hurricane watch when hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph and higher) are possible for a specific area. Preparing a site for a hurricane can become difficult in windy conditions, so monitor weather reports and prepare your site accordingly. 

Hurricane Warning: 24 hours before projected landfall.
The issuance of a hurricane warning by the NHC indicates that hurricane force winds (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected in an area within 24 hours. At this point, the storm is likely to affect your site. 

After the Storm
When it’s safe to return to the site after the storm is over, begin assessing damage and start clean-up. If the project appears to have sustained damage or delays from the storm, immediately notify your broker and insurance company.

Have questions? Consult our Hurricane preparedness guide for construction projects. Or contact your broker or AXA XL Construction Risk Engineer.

 

Dustin Jones is an underwriting manager on AXA XL’s US Inland Marine insurance team. He can be reached at dustin.jones@axaxl.com. Kevin Furlow is a senior construction risk engineer on AXA XL’s North America Construction insurance team. He can be reached at kevin.furlow@axaxl.com.

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Global Asset Protection Services, LLC, and its affiliates (“AXA XL Risk Consulting”) provides risk assessment reports and other loss prevention services, as requested. This document shall not be construed as indicating the existence or availability under any policy of coverage for any particular type of loss or damage. AXA XL Risk. We specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that compliance with any advice or recommendation in any publication will make a facility or operation safe or healthful, or put it in compliance with any standard, code, law, rule or regulation. Save where expressly agreed in writing, AXA XL Risk Consulting and its related and affiliated companies disclaim all liability for loss or damage suffered by any party arising out of or in connection with this publication, including indirect or consequential loss or damage, howsoever arising. Any party who chooses to rely in any way on the contents of this document does so at their own risk.

US- and Canada-Issued Insurance Policies

In the US, the AXA XL insurance companies are: AXA Insurance Company, Catlin Insurance Company, Inc., Greenwich Insurance Company, Indian Harbor Insurance Company, XL Insurance America, Inc., XL Specialty Insurance Company and T.H.E. Insurance Company. In Canada, coverages are underwritten by XL Specialty Insurance Company - Canadian Branch and AXA Insurance Company - Canadian branch. Coverages may also be underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003. Coverages underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003 are placed on behalf of the member of Syndicate #2003 by Catlin Canada Inc. Lloyd’s ratings are independent of AXA XL.
US domiciled insurance policies can be written by the following AXA XL surplus lines insurers: XL Catlin Insurance Company UK Limited, Syndicates managed by Catlin Underwriting Agencies Limited and Indian Harbor Insurance Company. Enquires from US residents should be directed to a local insurance agent or broker permitted to write business in the relevant state.